Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nine meals away from anarchy

The headline above isn’t my own creation–I read the phrase online some time ago referring to the fact that most grocery stores turn over their inventory about every three days. If no deliveries occur during any three-day period, the odds are pretty good that at the end of three days, under normal circumstances, the grocery shelves will be pretty close to bare. But how many of us keep telling ourselves that deliveries will keep arriving like they always have, so if we need bread, milk or anything else, we’ll just head to the store, get in, get out and get home? That’s usually no problem, unless thousands of your closest friends also decide to go to the store at the same time for the same items, just like hundreds of thousands caught in blizzard conditions on the East Coast.

Much of the East Coast was slammed by record snow late last year and early this year, so it’s no surprise that grocery stores may have been much busier than usual in the days before and even during the storms. But what good is a store full of customers if there’s no food left on the shelves?

If people get hungry enough, they’ll do just about anything to get food. Stories of food riots around the world seem to be increasing. Yet people in developed countries such as the U.S. deceive themselves into thinking that a food shortage can’t happen here. Do the math: If grocery stores have a three-day supply of groceries under normal circumstances, what happens if people even THINK there’s going to be a shortage of something? Forecasters call for a possible chance of snow, and hundreds of people all head to the store at the same time to pick up whatever limited supply of grocery items are left. But if they get there too late and the shelves are bare…

We’re nine meals away from anarchy.

One relative of mine keeps talking about how they can’t afford to stock up on extra food, all the while buying small packages of gourmet organic delicacies that cost twice as much and last only half as long. Meanwhile I’m going through the checkout lane at Sam’s Club with a 50-lb. bag of rice and 5 10-lb. bags of great northern beans for less than $60. Stir in batches of vegetables I’ve dehydrated myself and sealed up in mason jars, add a pinch of spices from among the two dozen quart-sized mason jars of dried onion, tomato powder, cumin, celery, cayenne or other spices I’ve bought dirt-cheap in bulk quantities and I have enough soup mix in my grocery cart to last at least two months.

A man who’s $100 in debt is $200 poorer than a man who has $100, but all other things being equal, the man who’s $100 in debt can eventually dig himself out of his financial hole by spending less than he earns. It’s the same way with stocking up on food and other essentials. Do you eat five cans of vegetables a week? Buy 10 cans of vegetables every week and build up a stockpile of food. If it sounds ridiculous to think that after six months–26 weeks–you’ll have 130 extra cans of vegetables or anything else you’ve bought and haven’t used up, then ask yourself how dumb you’ll feel if weather, riots, strikes or anything else interrupt the supply chain to the grocery store and your family is left with empty cabinets and empty stomachs that didn’t have to end up that way.

“But I don’t have enough room to stock up on food!”

Do you like to eat more than you like to have stuff you never use taking up space you could use for things you really need? Do you really need six boxes of Christmas decorations you only use once a year hogging space along the garage wall when you could use that same space to store several cases of canned food? Do you really need all that empty space under your workbench that you could use to store a couple 55-gallon drums of potable water in case your water service undergoes an unexpected, long-term interruption? Could you take those boxes that you’ve stacked three-high along one wall and stack them six-high and use the new-found space for cases of canned goods so your family can have food no matter what interruptions have left grocery shelves bare? Why not show your family that you’ve got their best interests in mind by preparing now to ensure their long-term well-being?

How many meals are you away from anarchy?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

About this site

About this site

I don’t know about you, but as I read the headlines every day, I worry that things are going to hit the fan and that I won’t be prepared for whatever could happen. But at the same time, I know that all the worrying in the world won’t do me a bit of good if I don’t take common-sense steps to ensure that I’m acquiring what I need for my long-term well-being. Having said that, though, there comes a point at which we’ve done all we can do with the resources we have and the situation we’re in, and from that point forward, all we can do is trust God and ask for His wisdom as we proceed. I hope that this site will not only help you acquire skills and ideas to help you through these uncertain times, but also in some way point you to the One who promises that even in the midst of chaos, He will never leave you nor forsake you.

“But bad stuff just doesn’t happen to me…”

As I write this, it’s been about 18 hours since a massive magnitude-8.8 earthquake struck the Pacific coast in Chile. We’re less than two months out from the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti. And 4-1/2 years ago this weekend, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, leaving more than 1,800 dead in its aftermath.

Maybe you don’t live along an earthquake fault, near the ocean or in any other region where natural disasters tend to occur. But chances are good that you probably live near other people. And people are often the most unpredictable and most destructive force in this world. The aftermath of Katrina, the Haitian earthquake and myriad other disasters have been made so much worse by people doing stupid, destructive things. You might as well just head for the backwoods away from everyone, right? Well, getting away from everything and everyone isn’t an option right now for a lot of people, myself included. And And some of us, myself included, just don’t want to become hermits so focused on our own survival that we cut ourselves off from the rest of the world and hide in the Montana outback with our beans, bullets and Band-Aids. There’s something to be said about being a part of a larger community of like-minded people who can help you when your own resources are lacking, especially during challenging times.
And those challenging times will come. You might never go through an earthquake, hurricane, wildfire or other natural disaster. But you might lose your job, like about 10 percent of Americans at the moment. You might burn through your savings, lose your home to foreclosure and even find yourself on the street. It’s happening to a lot of people right now. But there are things you can do right now, “baby steps” you can take today, tomorrow, next week and next month to help you prepare for those emergencies. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, half of your approach to preparing for uncertain times is 90 percent mental. I hope this site will help you start thinking about what you can do now to be ready when those uncertainties hit.